How to Find a Paralegal School near Woodstock Connecticut
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Woodstock CT and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Woodstock homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Woodstock CT with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Woodstock CT paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Woodstock CT as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Connecticut to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Woodstock CT.
Paralegal Online Programs
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals in Woodstock CT searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing Woodstock CT area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Woodstock CT law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Woodstock CT paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Woodstock CT legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Connecticut legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Woodstock CT local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Woodstock CT. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Woodstock CT, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Woodstock CT?
In the mid-17th century, John Eliot, a Puritan missionary to the American Indians, established "praying towns" where Native Americans took up Christianity and were expected to renounce their religious ceremonies, traditional dress, and customs. One Praying town, called Wabaquasset (Senexet, Wabiquisset), six miles west of the Quinebaug River in present-day Woodstock, was the largest of the three northeastern Connecticut praying towns.
In 1675, when King Philip's War broke out, some of the town's Indians, (especially in the southern part of the town) sided with the Mohegans and the English while others sided with the Indians led by Philip, rallying to arms on what is now Curtis Island in present Holland, Massachusetts and Brimfield, Massachusetts. During the war, the Praying town became deserted, and the English with their Indian allies marched through Woodstock to present day Thompson in the summer of 1676 burning any crops or stored corn they could find.
In 1682, Massachusetts bought a tract of land, which included Woodstock, from the Mohegans. A group of 13 men from Roxbury, Massachusetts (home of the Pastorate of Woodstock's earlier visitor, John Eliot), settled the town in 1686 and named it New Roxbury. Judge Samuel Sewall suggested the town change its name to Woodstock in 1690, citing its proximity to Oxford, Massachusetts, and in 1749 the town became part of Connecticut. The present name is after Woodstock, in England.
A farming town in the 18th century, Woodstock began attracting industry after the War of 1812. "By 1820, there were 2 distilleries, 2 wheel wrights, an oil mill, fulling mill, carding machines, grist mills, saw mills, a goldsmith, and twine and cotton batting operations. Woodstock Valley was known for its shoe factories," according to the history page at the Woodstock town government Web site.
Choose the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Woodstock CT
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Woodstock home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Woodstock CT.
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